A Battle on Amazon You Should Know About...
This is a first post here for me, but I browse here almost every day. I'm writing about a book, and a battle of reviews on Amazon that, IMO, demonstrates the core truth of the book in question. The book is Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean. She is the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. I bought it last Saturday, and finished it on Monday morning. It's that good.
At it's heart, the book is a social history, but framed through the lens of deep research on a man likely few here have ever heard of: James Buchanan, who actually won a Nobel Prize for Economics, for his work on "Public Choice Theory". Professor MacLean discovered that Buchanan's papers have been left mostly untouched at his most recent academic home at George Mason University. (And that's a clue about the debate on Amazon).
The book is really the story of how Libertarian economic thought has been spread throughout America, in a long effort. It touches on the effort to privatize schools, which began with Virginia's decision, in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education, to close public schools that admitted blacks and provide vouchers to students to attend [white] "private academies"; the founding of the Mont Pelerin Society; the crucial role of funding, from the start, by Foundations, to create a Libertarian "cadre" beginning with the William Volker Fund, continuing through the Scaife and Olin funds, others (which I'm forgetting) and culminating, obviously, with the Koch's.
It only touches on the Federalist Society and it's role in selecting Judges; on the Powell Memo as a structural guidepost; the range of the intertwined and often not-quite-like-minded conservative nonprofit groups and organizations are hard to keep track of, but MacLean makes an attempt to sort them out and show how they connect, and the damaging impacts of their shared ideology. MacLean, with evidence, shows that the Libertarians long-ago concluded that they could never implement their anti-democratic plan in a democratic society--so the solution was obviously to get rid of the democracy part of the deal in America. So: gerrymandering, voter suppression, union-busting, etc. We have all seen this in action, more aggressively in recent years, but that's the plan. Crony capitalism, to survive, has to put democracy out of business, while keeping the Kabuki aspects of our democracy (demanded by our monopoly media) "legitimate". (Can't wait for the demise of Net Neutrality...goodbye, C-99)!
But on to Amazon--the only reason I'm writing this post, heck, the only reason I knew about this BOOK--is because when it came out, the Libertarian trolls went on "RED Alert". I am friends on FB with a guy named Steve Horwitz. He used to be on the faculty at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, where my sister and spouse also taught. He's now taken a new position at Ball State, which is in Muncie, Indiana. His FB feed alerted me to the controversy about this book. Libertarians are attacking it now from all sides.
My relationship with Steve is "complicated". He posts dumb libertarian stuff on FB, (and that's why my sis emailed me, years ago, to rebut some of his BS). [I'm Poly Sci from Grinnell College, she's an English major] but he also posts smart libertarian stuff on FB! He claims to be part of the Bleeding Heart Libertarians and I know that is true. Steve is fair minded, to be sure, and within his libertarian constraints, but as an academic who has enjoyed some success, and who has enjoyed the fruit of Koch money, he understands the costs that the sunshine in MacLean's book might impose on a larger academic/political gravy train. Steve's scathing review is article number one on Bleeding Heart...and what's weird it's been both Amazon's number one review, and then it has appeared and disappeared. (So I don't know what's up with that).
But the Amazon score is 62% 5-Star; 3% 4-Star; 2% 3-Star; 3% 2-Star; and 30% 1-Star. (I don't know if I can even post a review, as always, I went to the local store for my copy).
So it's a war on Amazon between the regular readers (almost all of whom, voting statistics show, are NOT "Libertarians") and the mobilized, tiny, Libertarian mob of true believers and the paid sycophants who encourage them. By now, they have ginned up a 30% opposition, because this really *IS* an important book. Buy it if you can--Professor MacLean and Viking would certainly appreciate it--but at the very least, demand that your local Library stock it--while they still have that "freedom".
We are only a few states away from a Constitutional Convention, everybody, and this book really explains why...Aside from Democratic Party fecklessness, which would be another post from me for another day. I'm on this site for a *reason*.
Sorry for the long post, but it's a great book. We could have an interesting discussion on another thread once a few people read it. Thanks!